Science: The Disobedient Rocket

One fine afternoon a huge Atlas rocket took off from Cape Canaveral carrying an Agena B as its second stage. On the nose of the Agena perched Ranger III, a 727-lb., $7,000,000 marvel of precision and ingenuity that U.S. spacemen hoped last week would send back closeup TV pictures of the moon, and land a small, tough seismograph on the lunar surface.

Ranger I and Ranger II had been flops because of bad propulsion; Ranger III's launch was apparently O.K. The Atlas fired its three motors, then plopped back into the ocean as planned. The Agena fired and soared into a "parking...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!